Over 400 pharmacists to be hired for practices as NHS England doubles pilot fund

NHS England has more than doubled a fund to recruit clinical pharmacists to work in GP practices.

More than 400 medicines experts will now be employed through the scheme launched in July.

NHS England announced on Monday it would more than double funding for the programme from £15m to £31m after an overwhelming response.

The 73 successful applications will be announced today, covering 698 practices and funding 403 clinical pharmacists.

The programme will fund the pharmacists for three years from next spring where they will provide expert help managing long-term conditions, advice for those with multiple medications and more access to clinical advice on treatments. Recruitment of the pharmacists will begin immediately.

Primary care workforce

The pilot programme will be evaluated and build on the experiences of practices that already have clinical pharmacists as part of their team. The work is part of the GP Workforce 10 Point Plan.

The initial £15m announced in July was paid from the £1bn primary care infrastructure fund, now known as the transformation fund. The money was earmarked to cover 60% of pay costs for the pharmacists in the first 12 months of employment, 40% for the second and 20% for the third year.

The bids were assessed by regional and national panels including local education and training boards (LETBs), Health  Education England, the BMA, the RPS and patient representatives.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: ‘Joint working between pharmacists and GPs has the potential to have major benefits for both patients and clinical professionals. This pilot will be a win-win for GPs, pharmacists and patients.

GP pressure

‘By testing these new ways of working across professional boundaries we are taking another step forward to relieving some of the pressure that GPs are clearly under and ensuring patients see the health professional that best suits their needs.'

RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker said: ‘We have a severe shortage of GPs across the UK, and having highly trained pharmacists working with us to take on tasks such as medication management, will help alleviate the intense pressures we are under, and improve patient safety.

‘The feedback that we have received from our members who already have a practice based pharmacist is that they play an invaluable role, so we are pleased that NHS England has taken the idea so seriously and so swiftly brought it to fruition.’

GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘The pilot scheme is a positive and important opportunity to develop the role of pharmacists working in practices to relieve some of the unsustainable pressures faced by GPs up and down the country.

'Pharmacists bring specific skills that should add value as part of multi-professional teams working in GP surgeries.  We need to ensure that the benefits from these pilots can be extended to all practices nationally, so that GPs can be supported to have the time to see the increasing numbers of patients with complex and long-term conditions, and in order to provide quality and accessible care.’

Visit Medeconomics for advice on how to employ a pharmacist in your practice

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